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Video courtesy WTHR Channel 13


Judith Cebula discusses today's visit by Rev. Sun Myung Moon, leader of the Unification Church. (1:40)

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A closer look

The Rev. Sun Myung Moon, 81, founded the Unification Church in 1954, vowing to continue the mission that Jesus left unfinished at the time of his death.

Now operating in the United States as the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, the church claims 50,000 members in North America. Moon was convicted of tax fraud in 1982. He left prison a year later and purchased The Washington Times newspaper.

Since then, Moon has made several national tours to forge alliances with evangelical churches and conservative political groups. > News


Gathering highlights message of unity

Unification Church leader Sun Myung Moon calls for reconciliation during national tour.

Indianapolis Star

In an effort to forge partnerships with local black churches, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon was in Indianapolis on Monday night preaching about the oneness of Christian faith and his familiar message of world unity.

Flanked by local black preachers, Indianapolis members of the Nation of Islam and a traveling team of urban evangelists, he called for racial reconciliation, interdenominational cooperation and strong families.

"When each of you enter the spirit world after this world, there will be no ethnic divide and no denomination, no color barrier," Moon said, speaking to about 600 people at First Christian Missionary Baptist Church, 6190 E. 38th St.

"You will enter the family of God, which is what I see right now in this audience -- one family, my family."

The 81-year-old Korean-born preacher founded the Unification Church in 1954 and has spent the past 47 years preaching and working toward world unity -- with the promotion of intermarriage being one of his methods.

Moon has founded dozens of agencies to carry out his message, including the Interreligious International Federation for World Peace, which brought him to Indianapolis. His one-day visit was part of a 51-city nationwide blitz that began in February and ends Monday in Washington.

But Moon has been using national tours to promote his church for nearly two decades, said Anson Shupe, an Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne sociologist who has studied the Unification Church since the 1970s.

At first glance, the alliance of six black Baptist and Pentecostal churches in Indianapolis with the Unification Church looks like a strange marriage. But add the presence of local leaders of the Nation of Islam at the Indianapolis rally, and the relationship begins to look vaguely familiar.

Last October, Moon joined the Million Family March, the latest in a series of religious demonstrations organized by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.

Black churches, particularly those in urban neighborhoods, joined the Nation of Islam in that march and the more famous Million Man March in 1995. The call to family renewal, cultural pride and spiritual discipline was hard to argue with, said Elder Lionel Rush of Indianapolis. He supported the Million Man March, and he's endorsing Moon's campaign, We Will Stand!

"I am hear to support and honor a world leader who is willing to work across denominational lines to help solve some of the most deadly problems plaguing our communities," said Rush, pastor of Greater Harvest Institutional Church of God in Christ in Indianapolis.

"The city and the nation have too many problems for us to start shooting at the man who is willing to help solve the problems."

Rush was referring to 30-year-old allegations that the Unification Church is a cult. But Shupe, who has written several books about Moon and his followers, said it just isn't so. Instead, he calls the church a multi-million-dollar corporation.

"Moon and his followers are not like the Branch Davidians, or Jim Jones or Heaven's Gate," Shupe said, listing three of the most notorious cults. "It is too big and too public to fit the cult definition."

To support this, Shupe notes Moon's purchase of The Washington Times newspaper in the 1980s and financial support of conservative politicians.

The Rev. Linda Triggol, pastor of the local Unification congregation, Indianapolis Family Church, said Monday's revival is the kick-off of a new ministry alliance.

She is working with Rush, the Rev. Damon Roach of First Christian Missionary Baptist Church, and other congregations to offer marriage and family seminars and youth workshops.

Contact Judith Cebula at (317) 444-6237 or via e-mail at

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